Search results for: 'survival-skills'

  • Skills Grandpa Knew (And You Should, Too)

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    Being a city slicker has its advantages. Basically, we can get anything we need thanks to convenient shops and local utility companies. Food, clothes, car parts - and let's not forget electricity and natural gas - all come to us without very much work on our part. But what would happen if the world decided to bug out on us, and we were left to our own natural instincts? Would you still be able to provide for yourself – and your family – if the grid went down, an EMP went off, or something of the like?

    Back in the day, people weren’t as reliant on the corporate world to get them what they needed. People had skills, and their skills were necessary to their livelihood. In an article from Off Grid Quest, the author suggests that “if we were to have a breakdown in society, those skills which we never bothered to learn would become essential.”

    So what are those essential skills? I thought you’d never ask. Here are five skills that would do us all well to know, whether we have a societal breakdown or not.


    1. Gardening

    You need food. That’s going to be one of the realizations you have if all the store shelves are empty with no sign of extra stock arriving. That’s where a vegetable garden comes in handy.

    Old Timey Skills - GardeningGardening is a skill that may be a lot more difficult than most people think. It took the author of the aforementioned article “three years to get more than just herbs and a smattering of produce out of [the garden].” You could be in for some very hungry seasons if you put off learning how to garden until you absolutely need it. Fortunately, the Internet knows everything, so if you need help, you’re sure to find loads of information at your fingertips (such as this article by And, if you need seeds that will store for a number of years, check out our garden and heirloom seeds here.


    1. Raising Animals For Food

    Old Timey Skills - Raising AnimalsJust like growing a garden, raising animals involves more than you may even realize. Cats and dogs are one thing, but cows, rabbits, chickens, and other delicious animals require the ability to take care of their illnesses yourself. Vets may not always be an option, so knowing how to care for your creatures is imperative. Other factors can include learning how to butcher and prepare the food that your animals sacrificed for you. Butchers might not be a readily available resource, so knowing how to properly prepare your critters could very well be a good skill to have.


    1. Hunting

    Speaking of preparing animals to eat, hunting is another useful skill that could help find food for your family when all else fails. Be it through your bow hunting skills or rifle abilities, know the tricks of the trade, including tracking and the nature of the animal you’re after.


    1. Basic Carpentry and Mechanics

    Old Timey Skills - MechanicsKnowing how to fix your car when it breaks down when there’s nobody else around is a good thing to know not only in a fallen society, but on long stretches of road where the next town is many miles away and traffic is few and far in between.

    Carpentry is the same way. Knowing how to go about repairing and making good, solid furniture and other things can really make a difference to your family when everything else has been taken from them.


    1. Canning and Food Storage

    Remember that vegetable garden you have? Knowing how to prepare and store that excess food for long-term storage will give you that extra buffer when times are tough. But don’t worry, even if you don’t have the resources to grow a garden or can your own food, we can help by providing you with delicious food that is packaged to store for up to 25 years. Check out our emergency food storage products for what will suit you and your family best.


    Of course, this is in the event of something extreme happening to our society that makes having these skills an essential part of our repertoire. Hopefully we won’t have to go that far. But then again, disasters are only as bad as we’re prepared for. Better to be safe than hungry, in my opinion.


    What are some other essential skills to know? Tell us in the comments below!

    Posted In: Additional Reading, Planning, Skills Tagged With: huntin, mechanics, carpentry, raising animals, canning, garden, skills

  • Fantastic Plastic: A Million Uses for a Grocery Bag

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    Fantastic Plastic: A Million Uses for a Grocery bag

    Any of you with diaper-age children already know the crucial importance of keeping plastic grocery bags on hand at all times. As a dedicated bag toter, I found myself vindicated this week by no less than Backpacker Magazine, whose online slideshow, “Survive With a Plastic Bag,” has got me thinking of other uses for this ubiquitous resource.

    Backpacker’s six tips include some predictable, but still helpful waterproofing ideas, as well as some not-so-predictable ones, like using the plastic bag as a windsock or a whistle. I’m more than convinced I need a handful of these in my hiking pack and emergency kits. But just a little more digging unlocks the further utility of the plastic bag. Here’s just a sampling:

    • Survival Common Sense lists a bunch of different kinds of plastic bags—everything from Ziplocs to garbage can liners—and shows what you can do with them. I like the wallet-sized fire starter, in particular.
    • Outdoor Life’s Survivalist blog has a great little write-up on how to use a standard plastic grocery bag to collect water in the wild. Hint: it doesn’t even require digging a hole!
    • The Master Woodsman (we don’t know who he is, but we like his site) dedicates a whole article to the big, black garbage bag. His super impressive list of uses for the bag includes some shockers. On your own, you might have come up with the idea of making a shelter or lining a sleeping bag with a garbage bag. But would you have known that you can make a mattress, strong cord, or even glue out of one? Yeah, me neither.
    • In possibly the biggest mind-blower, this YouTube clip shows how to boil water in a plastic bag! I’m not going to pretend to understand why the bag doesn’t melt or ignite, but the guy in the video successfully hard-boils an egg in one over a bed of blazing coals. In a plastic bag!


    If you’re still not convinced (Really? What does it take, people?), check back on these previous posts to see still more ingenious ways to put plastic bags to use for emergency preparedness.


    Have we missed anything? What other emergency or survival uses do you have for these fantastic plastic bags?


    Photo courtesy of Backpacker Magazine Ben Fullerton

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: DIY, Survival, skills

  • DIY Bow and Arrow


    Once a weapon of myths and legends, the bow and arrow can now be found in any sporting goods or outdoors store for bow hunting enthusiasts . . . And while there is a large selection of bows and arrows to choose from, have you ever wondered what it’d be like to make your own handcrafted bow?

    In a survival situation, knowing how to make your own bow and arrow could help you get food to feed yourself and your family—if you run out of MREs and Mountain House pouches and have to hunt. Also, if you know how to make a bow and arrow, you’ll have a back-up if yours breaks or you can’t take it with you when you evacuate. Knowing how to make a bow and arrow will make you more self-sufficient.

    So let’s put another notch in your survival tool belt. Here’s a basic how-to that will help you make a hunt-worthy bow and arrow set.

    Survival Bow Instructions

    The folks at came up with, what they call a “quickie” bow tutorial for beginning bow crafters. The reason why it’s called a “quickie” is because it is “made at the time the wood is harvested instead of waiting a year plus for the wood to cure (as is typical for regular bow construction.)”  The advantage is that this is ready to use right away (for survival situations); the down side is that it  may crack or break as it dries out.

    1.      Choosing Wood

    Some of the best woods for making bows include osage orange, yew, ash, black locust, and hickory, though most hardwoods can work (oak, maple, beech). Find a relatively straight 5 foot long (1.5-2 inches in diameter) section of sapling or branch that is free of knots, side branches, and twists. Cut this carefully so not to crack or split the wood.

    2.     Finding the Belly, Back, Handhold, and Limbs

    Stand the stave (the limb you just cut) on the ground and hold loosely with one hand, then push outward lightly on the middle of the bow. The stave will swivel to show you which way it is slightly curved. The outside is the “back” and the inside is the “belly.” Do not touch the back, as it receives most of the tension and damage can cause the bow to break.

     DIY Bow and Arrow

    Photo Courtesy of

    Find the middle and mark out your handhold area (3 inches from the center in both directions). The area above the handhold is the upper limb; the area below is the lower limb.

    3.     Shaping

    Put the bottom tip on your foot and hold the top tip while pushing outward from the belly (only push a few inches). Look at how the limbs bend and observe the areas that do not. Remove wood from the belly of the limbs where they do not bend and leave material where the limb bends a lot (DO NOT REMOVE WOOD FROM THE BACK!). The goal is to get the limbs to bend evenly. Remove material slowly and recheck frequently. The handhold and tips should remain straight or have very little bend.


    4.     Notches for the Bow String

    Once you have achieved even flex throughout the length of the limbs, you can carve small notches on both sides of each tip, being careful not to carve into the back of the bow.  They don’t need to be very deep, only enough to keep a string in place. Tie the bow string on (nylon, sinew, or plant fiber) so there is about 5 to 6 inches between the string and the handhold when the bow is strung. Do not pull back on the string yet.

    DIY Bow and Arrow Photo Courtesy of

     5.     Tillering

    This is the most time intensive part. Hang the bow horizontally on a branch or piece of scrap wood by the handhold. Pull down on the string a few inches and observe how the limbs bend. The limbs should mirror each other. If they do not bend evenly, continue shaping until evenness is achieved. Continue pulling down on the string until you are able to pull it to your draw length with the limbs being even (Your draw length is determined by holding the bow and pulling the string to your upper jaw).

    DIY Bow and Arrow Photo Courtesy of

     You also need to have a draw weight. 25-35 pounds is for small game, 40-60 pounds is for larger animals. Test draw weight by placing a five foot 2x4 piece of lumber vertically on a scale, balance the how on it horizontally (forms a T shape with the handhold resting on the lumber) and pull down on the string to the full draw length. The scale registers the draw weight.


    DIY Bow and Arrow Photo Courtesy of

    6.     Finishing

    You can now use the bow as-is. Do not fire the bow without an arrow. If you want to finish your bow, you can sand the belly smooth and oil it to prevent it from drying out too quickly. You can continually adjust the tiller and oil as necessary.


    Arrow Instructions

    Finished arrows need to be lightweight, yet strong. They also need to be straight, well-fletched (has about 3-5 feathers or other materials at the end to help them “fly”), have the right spine (rigidity), and be the right length for your bow. This arrow tutorial was found at


    photo courtesy of

    Collect branches and straight saplings that are at least 30 inches long and have a diameter between 3/8 and ½ inch. Trim off side branches (or find some without side branches).

    Remember that the extra water of green wood will make the shaft heavier (unless you dry the wood for a couple months). Peel off the bark carefully and carve off any knots or branches. Straighten crooked spots by heating them for 30 seconds over an open flame, bend it a little beyond straight and hold until it cools.

    Cut a notch about ¼ inch deep into the end of the shaft (to attach to the bowstring while shooting). Be careful not to split the arrow. Cut a similar one in the head to receive a stone or metal arrowhead. Make a metal head by grinding and filing thin, flat steel pieces. Stone or glass can be chipped into an arrowhead. Add glue to the notch, insert the arrowhead, and wrap with twine or other fibers. Seal with more glue.

    DIY Bow and Arrow

    Photo courtesy of Sensible Survival Blog

    Fletch the arrow by gathering and splitting bird wing or tail feathers in half (they need to all be from the same side of the bird). Shorten to 4-5 inches and 1/2 inch wide. Space equally around the arrow and glue. Secure with the same cord used on the arrowhead (you can substitute duct tape for feathers in a bind).

    DIY Bow and Arrow

    Photo Courtesy of


    There you have it! Bow and arrows. Have you made some before? What are your tips for making or shooting?


    Additional Tips and Sources

    Survival Mastery: Bow and Arrow

    Field and Stream: Bow and Arrow

    Posted In: Insight, Skills, Uncategorized Tagged With: survival skills, hunting, DIY

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